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Consumer/barrister relationship clarified by ACCC and NSW Bar Association

An article from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission giving an insight into how the unpackaging of legal services are available.

The following article from ACCC gives an insight into how the unpackaging of legal services are available. Reducing the costs of litigation is as challenging as the legal system. The more of the work that one can effect, the more that will be available for property division, or, to clothe and feed children, and care for the best interests of the children.

Consumer/barrister relationship clarified by ACCC and NSW Bar Association

Consumers in New South Wales have the option of seeking to directly brief barristers when seeking legal representation, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the NSW Bar Association have agreed.

"Such direct access may make a barrister's service more affordable for more consumers", ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel said today. "Contrary to a misapprehension, the NSW Barristers Rules do not require that clients brief barristers through a solicitor.

"Under the NSW rules, barristers can accept 'direct access briefs' from clients without the need for the clients to engage a solicitor, if the barrister so chooses.

"The NSW Bar Association agrees that it could not take any disciplinary action against a barrister accepting a direct access brief simply for choosing to do so.

"The ACCC notes, however, that it is not a requirement of the rules that barristers must accept such briefs. Many barristers will make the individual choice to be briefed through a solicitor.

"The availability of choice for all parties is an important factor. The option to directly brief a barrister and the ability of the barrister to accept the brief provides choice to all parties. It is likely to result in more efficiency, competition and consumer benefits.

"This clarification of the rules enhances competition in the market for barristers' services.

"It also provides the opportunity for reduced costs for consumers as it will not be necessary to employ two professionals for specialist advice or advocacy services. In some cases, briefing through a solicitor may cause duplication of work and increased costs".

NSW Bar Association President, Mr Bret Walker SC, said it was important that barristers in NSW were under no misapprehension as to the requirements of the NSW Barristers' Rules.

"There is nothing in the NSW Barristers' Rules preventing them from accepting direct access briefs. It is a matter for their and prospective clients' choice".

The ACCC will continue to examine the rules of professional associations from a competition perspective as part of its role in achieving compliance with the Trade Practices Act 1974 and the State Competition Codes.

Release # MR 164/03 Issued: 7th August 2003

It is stated amongst barristers that those who accept briefs without a solicitor are not as good as others who require solicitors. That is a shallow argument as all barristers start out at sometime and were at one time hungry for work. There should be capable barristers who charge less than the $7,000 per day as required by Senior Counsel, and others who charge (as little as) $1,200 per day. It would be interesting to know what daily charges have been encountered. Good experienced barristers appear to ask $4,500 per day.

It is possible to observe barristers in action at the courts. Knowing when they are about to do their advocacy is not easily determined. They do not always like prospective clients sitting behind them also. Evaluating a barrister is also challenging. Observing a Senior Counsel gives an upper value, where the others lie in the scheme of things is the question. The amount that a barrister requests in essence is a self-evaluation. How that might be relied upon is another question. Each barrister is using their clients to upgrade their skills. Watching a (legal aid) barrister in the court yesterday, whose advocacy skills improved in three month period, was a sign of how experience can be the best teacher. Unfortunately the client pays.

Last edit: by verdad

What is done for you, let it be done, what you must do, be sure you do it, as the wise person does today that what the fool will do in three days - Buddha
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